Monday, January 18, 2010

Accessories Anonymous: Fascinating Fascinators

One could say that despite her brash demeanor and "me-against-the-world" attitude, Kenley Collins accomplished at least one positive thing as a result of her appearance on Season 5 of Project Runway. She helped bring back the fascinator.

Originally designed as a "cocktail hat," fascinators were generally made with feathers, ribbons, beading and other glamorous supplies and were worn to fancy events in place of a hat. Whether it's due to Kenley's unceasing commitment to 40's attire and accessories, or the fact that retro is so incredibly hip right now, fascinators have made a comeback.

Fascinators can be worn on a headband, clip or comb and can vary greatly in size and complexity. I made a few simple ones this afternoon after a brief trip out to a local fabric & trim outlet store. I was mostly inspired by the peacock feathers, but this first headband was made using a curled goose feather pad. These pads come in a variety of colors- both solid and in various color combinations. Also, if you purchase them in white, you can very easily dye them to the color you prefer. Once the feather pad is to your liking, it's easy to hot glue or stitch it right on to a simple headband.

Also, if you're like me and sometimes bothered by a headband, it's just as easy to attach the feather pad to a clip or comb or whatever you like. The feathers are backed by a piece of fabric or felt, so it's very simple to attach to lots of different materials without effecting the feather layout. 

And now on to the peacock feathers. I actually have a vase full of dyed peacock feathers in my office. We use them on costumes and accessories every now and then and it's a pretty way to store them. If you have trouble finding a fabric or trim store nearby that sells peacock feathers, they can usually be ordered online for less than a dollar each. Not only can they be dyed, they can also be bleached, for a completely different effect. I use RIT Dye whenever I dye any type of feather- you can follow the instructions on the dye package as you would for fabric. The feathers I purchased today happened to have been dyed a lovely purple-ish hue. They look almost like normal peacock feathers, but when the light catches them just right, there's a lovely purple tint to them. I made two fascinators with these feathers. The first is made using a comb and gold ribbon as trim:

The second I made using a single peacock feather and some teal blue ribbon.

The fascinator attaches with a simple hair clip.

How daring are you in your hair accessories? Would you wear a fascinator? Fascinators made with clips are especially versatile as they can be clipped onto practically anything- a purse, a lapel, a hat, a belt loop- use your imagination!

Etsy is a veritable treasure trove of handmade fascinators in every color of the rainbow. Here are a few of my favorites:

Bleu Peacoque by sweetgrassmill, $16.00
This lovely combination of peacock and coque feathers is simple, but so interesting and elegant. Coque feathers are incredibly expensive, but they add such a fabulous touch of whimsy that I feel they are often worth the price.

While my personal affinity is for feather fascinators, they can be made out of virtually any material you like. I love the creative use of felt in this fascinator- it's hard to believe someone could actually make felt look elegant! Bravo!

Ivory Feather Flower Fascinator, brendasbridalveils, $38.99
Getting married, but not interested in wearing a traditional veil? Wear a fascinator instead! So many artisans on Etsy are able to make custom pieces at very reasonable prices.

I always want to encourage my readers and friends and family to support local artisans whenever possible. However, I understand that not all trends are suitable for all people. If you want to try out the fascinator trend without making a large financial commitment, I suggest going to Forever 21. Their fascinators and hair accessories are incredibly inexpensive- we're talking less than $6 or $7 most of the time. And if you catch them on sale- watch out!

Forever 21 Jute Hair Clip, $10.80

Forever 21 Fancy Feather Headband, $4.80

A word to the wise: you get what you pay for. A custom-made fascinator made by an Etsy artisan will be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of art for your collection. A headband from Forever 21 might not last quite so long and you can pretty much guarantee there will be lots of others out there exactly like yours. Also, I'm pretty sure F21 won't be taking custom orders anytime soon. Basically, what I'm saying is you can participate in this trend whether you buy a bargain accessory from a large chain store, or a potential heirloom from a local/Etsy artisan. So get on the bandwagon already!


Shaleah said...

Renee! I love this blog! I need you to come to New York and teach me how to dress. I have fallen into the sweatpants and hoodies hole and I can't get out!

Hope you're well - have a good week!

Renee T. Bouchard said...

Aaahh! Sweatpants and hoodies?!?!?! There is one simple, easy and COMFORTABLE way out of that hole- start wearing jersey dresses. They are as comfortable as sweats, but look sooooo much better!

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